Buyer personas - we know we need them, but defining them is another matter entirely. They are key to engaging with the right people at the right time. They inform the content that we spend hours planning, creating and sharing.
But we so often get them wrong.
Adele Revella points out a common problem: profiling the buyers instead of their buyer's decisions. Yes, fleshing out the personal background of your buyer persona may provide some useful context but, in a B2B environment, this practice is unlikely to hold any real weight.
The true purpose of your buyer personas is to enable you to understand what is driving the people who will choose to do business with you. Why do they need and want your product or service? Why should they choose you over your competitors?
So it's less important that Head of Marketing Tim just got married and enjoys road cycling at the weekends, and more important that he wants to find a marketing automation solution that will help him to generate more leads and impress his boss - and hopefully receive a pay rise.
In focusing on the decision-making process rather than the person, emotions still play a crucial role, as the above example shows. The best buyer personas help you to create content that hits your audience in the (business) heart.
1. You describe the buyer, not the buyer's decision The biggest mistake marketers make is to profile their buyers instead of their buyers' decisions. After all, buying is the behavior marketers want to influence, so the first priority for personas is to understand the attitudes, decision criteria, and actions that cause buyers to perceive that one option is better than another. We often make the mistake of gathering buyer information that is either irrelevant or obvious. If your marketing team is debating whether your persona is a man or a woman, or if you are bogged down finding just the right stock image of your persona, then you’re focusing on the wrong things. Unless you’re a B2C marketer for products sold in retail environments, the buyer’s gender, marital status, and hobbies are rarely relevant.